Toyota Motor Manufacturing Turkey on Tuesday officially celebrated the start of mass production of the redesigned Corolla Verso MPV (multi-purpose vehicle or minivan) for all markets worldwide.

The annual capacity of TMMT has now risen to 150,000 units, from 100,000, for the start of production of the seven seat Corolla Verso, which replaces a five-seat model previously built in Japan and launched just two years ago – Japanese makers usually replace models on a four-year cycle.

Employment at TMMT will increase from 2,600 people to over 3,050 by June 2004. Total investment for the production capacity increase and production of the Verso is €180 million, bringing TMMT’s overall total investment to €700 million.

The new Verso, designed and developed in Europe, is exclusively built in Adapazari, Turkey in a plant now producing three versions of the Corolla: the others are the sedan and station wagon.

“Toyota is very proud of the expansion of its plant in Turkey. Not only does the increased investment in TMMT reflect our belief in Turkey as a valuable economic and business partner, but it also highlights the hard work and dedication of the entire TMMT staff. It is thanks to them that TMMT now serves as the sole production site worldwide for the Corolla Verso,” said Dr. Shuhei Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe.

Toyota expects to sell 62,000 Corolla Versos in Europe this year, with sales beginning in May. All Corolla body types are now manufactured in Europe – Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) near Derby produces the hatchback versions.

TMMT began a double shift in March 2003, and currently produces one vehicle every two minutes. TMMT manufactured 70,000 vehicles in 2003, and exports of the Corolla sedan and wagon totalled 34,000 and 29,000 units respectively in 2003.

TMMT plans to produce some 140,000 vehicles in 2004, with 130,000 destined for sale in Europe. TMMT exported 23,030 units in the first quarter of 2004.

In 2004, Toyota aims to achieve annual sales of 860,000 units, and is aiming for 1.2 million by 2010. The carmaker sold a record 260,508 units in the period from January to March 2004, an increase of 23% over the first quarter of 2003.

Toyota’s European market share for the first quarter reached 5.4%, up from 4.6 % last year and its monthly sales exceeded the 100,000-unit mark for the first time, attaining a record 105,506 units in March – an increase of 20% over March 2003.

In 2003, Toyota achieved a seventh consecutive record year of sales in Europe, with 834,661 vehicles delivered – sales rose by 10% over the previous year. This was a record market share of 4.7%.

In 2003, Toyota produced 465,946 cars, 430,919 engines and 117,140 transmissions at its plants in the UK, France, Turkey and Poland.